Testing the limits of cognitive plasticity in older adults: Application to attentional control

Louis Bherer, Arthur F. Kramer, Matthew S. Peterson, Stanley Colcombe, Kirk Erickson, Ensar Becic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Laboratory based training studies suggest that older adults can benefit from training in tasks that tap control aspects of attention. This was further explored in the present study in which older and younger adults completed an adaptive and individualized dual-task training program. The testing-the-limits approach was used [Lindenberger, U., & Baltes, P. B. (1995). Testing-the-limits and experimental simulation: Two methods to explicate the role of learning in development. Human Development, 38, 349-360.] in order to gain insight into how attentional control can be improved in older adults. Results indicated substantial improvement in overlapping task performance in both younger and older participants suggesting the availability of cognitive plasticity in both age groups. Improvement was equivalent among age groups in response speed and performance variability but larger in response accuracy for older adults. The results suggest that time-sharing skills can be substantially improved in older adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)261-278
Number of pages18
JournalActa Psychologica
Volume123
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2006

Keywords

  • Aging
  • Cognitive plasticity
  • Cognitive training
  • Executive control

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

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